Immunization against staphylococcus aureus infections

Philip S. Barie, Mayur Narayan, Robert G. Sawyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus continue to plague surgical patients, whether as surgical site infections or other nosocomial infections that complicate surgical care. The only meaningful methods available to decrease the risk of developing such infections are topical skin antisepsis (pre-operative skin preparation) and peri-operative antibiotic prophylaxis, neither of which offer a panacea. Alternatives to the latter are sought so as to minimize antibiotic selection pressure as a factor in the increasing problem of antimicrobial drug resistance. This review considers the possibility that immunization against S. aureus may offer a viable alternative for prophylaxis. Methods: Review and synthesis of pertinent English-language medical literature. Results: Vaccination against viral pathogens has been in successful clinical use for more than two centuries and was instrumental in the eradication of smallpox and the near-elimination of diseases such as poliomyelitis. Vaccinations against a limited number of bacterial pathogens (e.g., Bordetella pertussis, Clostridium tetanii, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Haemophilus influenzae type b, Neisseria meningiditis, Streptococcus pneumoniae) have also been introduced with success, whereas others against bacteria are in development (C. difficile, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, S. aureus). Vaccination against S. aureus infection is in current veterinary use (e.g., to prevent mastitis among dairy cattle) but has not been successful to date in human beings despite multiple attempts, although development continues. Conclusions: Because of its complex microbiology, including multiple virulence factors and the ability to evade host immune surveillance, S. aureus presents numerous antigenic targets for vaccine development. Failure of two prior single-antigen vaccines in clinical trials has led to the consensus that future vaccine candidates must be directed against multiple antigens. Two distinct four-antigen vaccines are in clinical trials, but efficacy is yet to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)750-756
Number of pages7
JournalSurgical Infections
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • immunization
  • infection prevention
  • surgical prophylaxis
  • vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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